Facebook’s friend algorithm is poorly designed, and to a degree that this blogger finds consistently annoying. Really, it’s not just the algorithm that tells you that you’re “friending” people you don’t know, when you do know them, it’s the very website which prompts you to ‘friend’ the same people the system then says you don’t know.
The latest incarnation of this problem happened today while I was using my Facebook iPhone app. The app showed 19 people who were in my iPhone’s contacts area, which means I have their cell phone numbers, and then on the same page invited me to add all of them, or some selected number of them, as Facebook friends. So, I picked about 11 of the total number, and pressed “add.”
About just less than an hour later, and as I was logging back in to Facebook, I was unceremoniously greeted with a page telling me that my account was in some kind of penalty because I was trying to ‘friend’ people that I had few friends in common with. The next option I was presented with, was to take off the pending friend requests the system had asked me to add to start with. In a way, the page casted me as the guilty party when I clicked on it, and even though the Facebook system is the real culprit.
That’s crazy. And it shows that, like Google, Facebook’s website system development process lacks a group of true systems thinkers, who can anticipate these problems and have the engineering teams work to eliminate them. As I wrote before, this is not the first time such a problem has happened.
The first time was during the period when Facebook had a feature that presented you with a person who it reported you shared a large number of friends with. So, I would push the link button to add that person, and after a time of this process (which did not happen every day, but periodically), I would get a message that I was trying to friend people I had few friends in common with.
The system was so illogical in its operation that I eventually learned to ignore its request to add someone, even if I had, say 40 Facebook friends in common with them.
Then, it was eliminated with the introduction of the Facebook Timeline.
But now the same problem is back, in a slightly different way. Facebook needs to repair this problem once and for all; if the system is going to invite the user to add friends, then any warning algorithm should be deactivated when that process is used. Period, and no exceptions.